Nobody covers Brown County like The Democrat Buy PDF| Advertise| Contact Us
Hoosier Harvest Cookbook
 
Latest News
 
Contradictions emerge during Opry arson trial
Updated on: 01.29.14

On the witness stand Tuesday, former Little Nashville Opry owner Esther Hamilton stated that neither she nor the country music venue were in financial trouble.

“I never owed a dime when the Opry burned,” she said.

On Wednesday, Alan Strange, a forensic auditor with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) testified otherwise.

He said Hamilton and the Opry owed roughly $1.5 million in short- and long-term loans and operating expenses such as utilities, insurance and performer fees on Sept. 19, 2009. That was the day someone poured an ignitable liquid on and near the Opry stage and lit it on fire.

At the same time, the five Opry banking accounts contained a total of about $8,500, according to the ATF.

On day five of testimony, Prosecutor Jim Oliver focused on the gambling habits of Hamilton and the person she called her best friend, 77-year-old James D. Bowyer.

Bowyer is the former Opry business manager on trial for allegedly starting the fire that destroyed the Opry.

Oliver asked Strange to explain his findings from four Indiana casinos. The ATF officer said records from 2005 to 2009 show that Hamilton visited the casinos on 816 days. She spent $4.2 million and lost $152,000.

During the same time frame, Bowyer lost $163,000, while betting $1.7 million during 650 visits, according to Strange.

Hamilton testified that Bowyer did not gamble. She added that she gambled just “a couple times a month” when she got the chance.

Throughout the trial, defense attorney John Boren asked multiple witnesses if they were aware that Hamilton suffered a stroke in May 2013. Those who knew about the stroke indicated that the effects of it continue to linger.

On cross examination of Strange, Boren wanted to know if his investigation showed any evidence that Bowyer owned stock in Little Nashville Enterprises or contracted with the corporation that owned the Opry. Strange answered no to both matters.

Boren got Strange to say that the burning of the Opry differed in outcome from the sale of the Opry. A sale would have resulted in Bowyer receiving roughly $300,000, according to four promissory notes Bowyer wrote that were salvaged from the fire debris.

Strange also agreed that the Opry could have been rebuilt from the more than $3 million in insurance proceeds if the claim had been paid out.

The insurance money was never awarded. A judge ruled in favor of the insurance company because more than 50 percent of the sprinkler system had been dismantled, according to court records.

The trial is scheduled to resume at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Oliver said he plans to rest the state’s side of the case by midday.

Read more in the Feb. 5 issue of the Brown County Democrat.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Eddie E. “Hoss” Wilkerson II, 42, Pendleton
  Native of Brown County, 1991 graduate of BCHS

James E. (Jim) Robinson, 76, Bedford
  Former chief deputy of police for the town of Nashville

Josephine Lee Cueto, 62, Morgantown
  Daughter of Priscilla Burgmeier of Nashville

  • November 27
    Thanksgiving dinner
    11 a.m. to 3 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • November 27
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • November 28
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • November 28
    Government Offices CLOSED
  • November 28
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 28
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 29
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • November 29
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • November 29
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 29
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 30
    'St. Vincent' at the Playhouse
    7 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • November 30
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 1
    BC Commissioners
    6 p.m. County Office Building, 201 N. Locust Lane
  • December 1
    Gnaw Bone Sewage District
    5:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 1
    BC 4-H Council
    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 2
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 2
    Open 12-step meetings in New Bellsville area
    6 to 7 p.m. Harmony Baptist Church, 3999 Mt. Liberty Road, New Bellesville
  • December 2
    Nashville Redevelopment Commission CANCELED
  • December 2
    CSCD Building Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 2
    BC Chamber of Commerce
    8 a.m. Willow Manor, 72 Willow St.
  • December 2
    Boys Varsity Wrestling
    7 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 3
    Woodworkers Club
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 3
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 3
    BC Local Emergency Planning Committee
    9 a.m. Ambulance Base, 53 State Road 46 East
  • December 3
    BC Soil & Water District
    5 p.m. SWCD Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 4
    Go Club at the library Thursdays
    3:30 to 5 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 4
    WRAPS meetings
    7 to 9 p.m. Brown County Public Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 4
    CSCD Ecology Commission
    7 p.m. CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 4
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 4
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 5
    Bingo
    6 p.m. Fruitdale Fire Station, 5200 State Road 135 North, Bean Blossom
  • December 5
    Children's fund annual auction
    6 p.m. Out of the Ordinary, 61 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 5
    Boys JV, Varsity Basketball
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 5
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    Church schedules drive-thru Nativity
    6 to 8 p.m. New Life Comm. Church, 1450 State Road 135 North
  • December 6
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 6
    Dave Miller at Abe Martin Lodge
    5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park
  • December 6
    Girls JV, Varsity Basketball
    1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 6
    Boys JV, Varsity Basketball
    4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 6
    'The Polar Express' at the Playhouse
    1 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 6
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 7
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 8
    BC Animal Control Board
    7 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • December 8
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 9
    Euchre
    6 p.m. Sycamore Valley Center, 746 Memorial Drive (fairgrounds)
  • December 9
    Nashville Parking & Public Facilities
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • December 9
    CSCD Roads, Security commissions
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. CSCD Office, 8377 Cordry Drive; CSLOA Clubhouse, 8751 Nineveh Road
  • December 9
    BC 4-H Fair Board
    7 p.m. 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds
  • December 9
    Girls JV, Varsity Basketball
    6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 10
    Hamblen Fire District
    7 p.m. Hamblen Fire Station, 4650 Sweetwater Trail, Nineveh
  • December 10
    Local Coordinating Council
    8 a.m. Comm. Corrections Office, Suite B, lower level of Veterans Building, 902 Deer Run Lane,
  • December 10
    Jeff Foster at Hobnob restaurant
    6 to 8 p.m. Hobnob, 17 W. Main St.
  • December 10
    Boys Freshman Basketball
    6 p.m. BCHS, 235 School House Lane
  • December 11
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 12
    Widowed group plans Christmas party
    noon Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    BCSP Christmas bird count slated
    8 a.m. BCSP Nature Center, 1810 State Road 46 East
  • December 12
    'A Tuna Christmas' dinner theater at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 13
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • December 13
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    7:30 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 14
    'A Tuna Christmas' at the Playhouse
    2 p.m. BC Playhouse, 70 S. Van Buren St.
  • December 16
    Brown County Schools Board of Trustees
    6:30 p.m. BC Intermediate School, 260 School House Lane